Preview: London Irish v Harlequins

Date published: September 5 2014

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George Skivington will lead out London Irish at Saturday's London Double Header as they open their Premiership season against Harlequins.

London Irish captain George Skivington will lead his side out at Twickenham on Saturday as they open their Premiership campaign against Harlequins in the London Double Header.

The starting line-up includes five off-season signings and there is also a return from long term injuries for tighthead prop Halani Aulika and full back Tom Homer.

Irish International, Tom Court will start at loosehead prop in the front row alongside David Paice and Aulika.

Skivington will be joined in the second row by Samoa International Dan Leo and Blair Cowan and Ofisa Treviranus will play alongside Tom Guest in the back row.

Shane Geraghty and new signing Scott Steele form the half-back pairing with Eamonn Sheridan and Fergus Mulchrone in the centres.

Homer, Topsy Ojo and new recruit James Short start in the back three.

“The group has been eagerly awaiting the start of the season and it is great that we are finally here,” said London Irish Director of Rugby, Brian Smith.

“Twickenham is a great place to play rugby and we are looking forward to playing in front of over 65,000 supporters.

“Matches against Harlequins are always a huge challenge and tomorrow will be no different. We are looking forward to the battle.”

For Harlequins summer signing Marland Yarde will make his senior debut and partners Mike Brown and Ugo Monye in the back three.

In the centres, Jordan Turner-Hall is named alongside Matt Hopper with Danny Care and Nick Evans at half backs.

In the forwards, captain Joe Marler is joined in the front row by Joe Gray and Kyle Sinckler.

Behind a second row of George Robson and Charlie Matthews, Luke Wallace, Chris Robshaw and Nick Easter start.

Form: The Exiles have won just one of their last nine visits to Rugby HQ in all tournaments – a Double Header victory over Saracens in 2010. They have also beaten Saturday's opponents Harlequins just once in the teams' last seven encounters and not at Twickenham since 2006. Twickenham narrowly evaded Harlequins at the end of last season when they were beaten by Saracens in the Aviva Premiership semi-finals. That came after they won their final five regular season games – they have also won their last five clashes at Twickenham, a run that dates back to December 2011.

The teams:

London Irish: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Fergus Mulchrone, 12 Eamonn Sheridan, 11 James Short, 10 Shane Geraghty, 9 Scott Steele, 8 Tom Guest, 7 Ofisa Treviranus, 6 Blair Cowan, 5 Dan Leo, 4 George Skivington (c), 3 Halani Aulika, 2 David Paice, 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Gerard Ellis, 17 Matt Parr, 18 Leo Halavatau, 19 Kieran Low, 20 Conor Gilsenan, 21 Tomás O'Leary, 22 Chris Noakes, 23 Tom Fowlie.

Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Matt Hopper, 12 Jordan Turner-Hall, 11 Ugo Monye, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Danny Care, 8 Nick Easter, 7 Chris Robshaw, 6 Luke Wallace, 5 George Robson, 4 Charlie Matthews, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Joe Marler (c).
Replacements: 16 Rob Buchanan, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Will Collier, 19 George Merrick, 20 Jack Clifford, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Ben Botica, 23 Ollie Lindsay-Hague.

Date: Saturday, September 6
Venue: Twickenham
Kickoff: 16:30 (local, 15:30 GMT)
Referee: Gregory Garner
Assistant Referees: Ashley Rowden, Andrew Pearce
TMO: Keith Lewis

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